A soft glow filled the small room, awakening the sleeping warrior. She opened her eyes slowly, adjusting to the light, and raised herself up on her arms. Had she not still been half asleep, she might have started at the sight before her.
A beautiful girl was hovering several inches off the worn wooden floor. The glow was emanating from this girl made of moonlight, who was dressed exquisitely in a gown of white and pale blue that floated and swayed around her. Her long, billowing hair was white as a winter moon.
The warrior on the floor looked at this magnificent sight and was struck not by the girl's phosphorescence or her intriguing beauty, not by her dress or her white hair, but by her eyes. The apparition had mournful, icy blue eyes. She looked as though she had the wisdom of a thousand years, and yet she looked no older than fifteen or sixteen – the same age as the warrior she stood before.
The glowing beauty looked into the eyes of the broken warrior.
Then she was gone.
The warrior sat for a moment, wondering if what she saw could have been real, but the will to sleep overtook her. She lowered her torso once more onto her straw mat. The moonlight stroked her cheek through the bars on a small window.
The following evening, the warrior once again awoke to the sight of the spirit girl with sad eyes. The warrior couldn't help but feel as though she had known this girl.
"Who are you?" she asked.
The spirit dissolved into nothingness.
Once again, the warrior fell asleep, the moonlight grazing her face.
For the third time, the warrior found herself looking into the melancholy eyes of the apparition.
"Who are you?" she asked softly, expecting the spirit to disappear once more.
"The moon," the girl replied. Her voice was not worldly, though not frightening or sinister in any way. In fact, it was soft and gentle, like a snowfall. Immediately after speaking, she vanished.
The next night the warrior found herself staring at the moon through her tiny window. And she knew, somehow, that the moon spirit would be visiting her again.
The gentle light filled the room that night, once again waking the warrior. She looked into the eyes of the moon spirit.
"Tomorrow," said the spirit.
She faded away.
When the warrior awoke the next night, she did not know what to expect. The spirit floated before her as she had before, but this time the spirit held her graceful hand out to the warrior and said in her echoing and ethereal voice, "Come with me."
The warrior got to her feet and reached out despite her uncertainty. When their fingertips met, the warrior was surprised to find the hand not cold or harsh, but warm and soft. The spirit smiled and the warrior smiled back, her fears washed away. The spirit began to float upward, bringing the warrior with her. Or at least, she seemed to. The warrior looked down and realized her body was still on the ground sleeping, a peaceful look on her face. They floated through the roof of the cell and upward still, out, over the nearby ocean. They floated for what might have been seconds or hours – the warrior could not tell. When they stopped, they were hovering over the ocean with nothing but the stars and moon above them.
The spirit faced the warrior.
"We have more in common than you might think, Suki." Suki was, inexplicably, not startled that the moon spirit knew her name. "You and I are more connected than you know," she continued. "We both have counted this earth as out home. We both have been touched deeply by this war. And we have both had the fortune to meet a certain water tribe warrior by the name of Sokka."
Suki's eyes widened in surprise for a moment.
"My name is Yue," the moon spirit said, the echo in her voice receding. "And I was once the princess of the Northern Water Tribe. I would not have lived had the moon spirit not given me life." Yue paused there, and Suki nodded in understanding. "I met Sokka when he, Katara, and Avatar Aang came to the Northern Tribe to find a waterbending master. Sokka was the first – the very first – ever to see me not as a princess, but as simply a person. He did not see me as a way to gain power within the tribe. I thought that he was sweet and brave and kind –" Yue paused for a second as though she didn't want to admit that there wasn't a happy ending. " – but we couldn't be together. I was engaged to someone in the tribe. I didn't love him, but I knew that I had to marry him. I had a duty to fulfill. But all the same, I loved Sokka." Yue stopped before adding softly, "I still love Sokka."
There was a pause, thick with Yue's sorrow.
"How did you become the moon spirit?" Suki asked tenderly.
"The moon and ocean spirits are in mortal form: a pair of koi fish, eternally circling each other in the Spirit Oasis at the North Pole. A Fire Nation admiral killed the moon spirit to disable the waterbenders while his soldiers attacked." Suki's eyes widened. "The only way to restore balance," Princess Yue continued, "was for me to return the favor the moon spirit had done for me." Silver, shimmering tears welled in Yue's eyes. "And so, I became the moon spirit."
Suki looked at Yue, astounded. But the spirit was not finished yet.
"Sokka had been instructed by my father to protect me. He tried to tell me not to give my life – but I had to. I had to restore the balance. It was my duty to my people. And to the world." There was nothing boastful or proud in Yue's voice. Instead, she spoke with sad humility.
A wave of understanding broke over Suki. She remembered a night – it seemed to long ago now – that she and Sokka had almost kissed. A bright moon had hung between them.
"You were the one," Suki said. "He told me that he couldn't protect someone he loved, and that he didn't want it to happen again." Suki could feel tears filling her eyes.
"I know," Yue spoke softly. "I was watching over you that night."
"He blames himself for it," Suki said. "He thinks it's his fault that you . . ."
The unspoken words swirled between them.
"I know. And that's why I came to see you."
The two girls looked at each other.
"Tell him," Yue said. "Tell him that I want him to move on. That he can't worry about what might have happened. Tell him that I want him to enjoy his newfound love." Yue and Suki were both nearly crying as they looked into each other's eyes. Yue cupped Suki's face in her hands. "Tell him that I want him to be happy. Tell him that I want him to be happy with you."
The girls, bound by a common sadness, embraced, both with tears streaming down their cheeks. There was a moment of silence before Yue began to speak again.
"When you were in the Serpent's Pass, after he told you that he had lost someone he cared about, he returned to the spot where you two almost kissed. He looked up at the moon – at me – and said, 'Yue, what do I do? I think I love her. But I can't loose anyone else. And I don't want to abandon you.' Suki, you must tell him that the only way he can abandon me is if he abandons love. He must not close his heart."
Through her soft sobs Suki said, "Yes, I'll tell him." Yue took Suki's hand in a comforting gesture, as if they had been friends since childhood. After several moments, Suki said, "But I don't know where he is. I haven't seen him for months." Her voice was full of pain.
"I can take you to him," she said. Suki's eyes shone with hope upon hearing this. "But you can only stay for a moment." Suki gave a solemn nod.
They flew through the salty mist over the vast ocean, which was shimmering in the moonlight.
"Don't tell him tonight, or else he might think it was all a dream. Or he might not remember at all," Yue said as they flew. "But when you do tell him, give him this." She handed Suki a necklace that was, Suki noticed, much like the one that Katara wore.
They flew until they reached a small cave by the seashore. They floated inside, and Yue's glow cast enough light through the cave for Suki to see the warrior she had missed so much.
She landed softly next to him and whispered in his ear, "Sokka."
He stirred slightly and then opened his eyes blearily.
"Suki?" He asked in soft surprise. "How did you –"
"Shhh," She said soothingly. "I can't stay long. I'm in a Fire Nation prison." She smiled as she said, "A friend brought me to see you."
They kissed. When they broke apart, Sokka held onto Suki's hand and said, "Don't go."
"I'll see you again soon," Suki whispered.
The harsh sun in her eyes woke Suki the next morning. She rolled over. She wanted to return to her dreams of Sokka . . . her dreams of the moon spirit . . . No. That had been real. She felt so sure that it had, though in the early morning blur between dreams and reality, it was hard to tell. Suki shifted to a more comfortable position and, as she did so, realized that there was a damp spot on her mat where her head had been. She had been crying during the night. She touched her face and could feel the scars of tears running down her cheeks.
Suki closed her eyes, willing the night to return.
As she rolled over once more to hide from the sun's sharp rays, she felt something hard press against her. She reached into the pocket of her prisoner's uniform and felt something hard inside of it. She withdrew the small object, faintly remembering . . .
The instant she looked at it, everything came flooding back with the clarity of the moon against a black velvet sky.
It was a blue necklace with an ice-colored pendant. It had been Yue's. Suki put it back in her pocket for safekeeping. She would not forget Yue's request. Suki tried to return to sleep, but found herself lying awake, surrounded in memories of the sweet southern warrior she longed to see again.
And so the days passed. Suki reflected on everything in her life to pass the endless time. She wondered what had become of her village, and what had happened to her fellow Kyoshi warriors. And she wondered if she could ever be as brave as Yue.
Suki took no notice of how many days passed. She did not care about what or when she ate or when she slept. She floated through the time, lost to the world in her thoughts. As more and more time slipped by, Suki began to think of frightening things. She could not help but wonder . . . what if she died here? She didn't want to die in prison, at the mercy of the Fire Nation. If she had to die, she wanted to die in battle, fighting until her last breath left her.
But escape was impossible – several weeks of trying when she had first been locked up had earned her only harsh punishments and fatigue. But rescue did not seen to be near. It had been weeks since she had visited Sokka with Yue. If he was coming, surely he would have already come. She knew that no one else would. To the rest of the world, she was just another prisoner. She had no identity or significance. She was another nameless, faceless prisoner. Unless the Avatar defeated the Fire Lord, she would be here until . . . she didn't want to think about it. But she couldn't help it.
Suki slipped into despair – into a slow downward spiral.
She knew that, as a warrior, she must not loose her fighting spirit, and yet each day it grew smaller with the waning of the moon. She was loosing all hope and faith. Her body, too, was growing weaker. Her depression had left her with a diminishing appetite. She found herself always tired . . . always wanting to sleep . . . and she found herself wondering what it would be like to never have to wake up again . . .
One night, a night with no moon, Suki found herself once again in the presence of the shining spirit. Yue floated before her, glowing silver, looking even less tangible then she had before.
"Suki," she said gently, her voice echoing. "You must not give up hope."
"Yue, I can't. No one is coming for me." Suki let out a soft, defeated sob. "Yue, am I going to die here?" she asked in despair, speaking for the first time in weeks. Their bond in sorrow was reaffirmed in that moment. Yue reached out a hand and waved it slowly over Suki's head. In her mind's eye, Suki could se an image, and she knew – she could feel it – she knew that it was real.
Sokka was sitting beside a dying fire. The embers were glowing just enough to illuminate his his pensive face. With the small stick in his hand, he wrote in the dirt before him, "Suki."
The vision ended. Suki looked at the moon spirit.
"Will he come?" She asked.
"Shhh . . ." Yue said before fading away.
Time passed by. Suki's only interest was watching the moon arc across the sky each night. She watched as it grew a little larger, a little brighter, each night. When it once again reached fullness, Suki found herself even more compelled by it than usual. She exhaled one deep, lonely sigh before laying down to sleep.
That night, she woke to a whispering voice.
It wasn't Yue.
She sat up and saw through the bars the face she had been wanting to see for so long.
It came out as barely a whisper.
Beside Sokka was Toph, who was holding a small rock in her hand. Toph put a hand on the thick, metal lock on the door of Suki's cell. She squeezed the rock, which shaped itself into a key. Sokka took the key from Toph and unlocked the door wordlessly before swinging it open.
Suki wanted to run to Sokka and throw herself into his arms and cry and tell him everything that had happened to her, but she could not. She had barely the strength to stand. Sokka rushed in to help her upon seeing her weakness, and they walked out in silence. Just beyond the prison's outer wall, Appa was waiting with Aang and Katara perched on his head. Sokka helped Suki onto the bison's saddle. She lay stretched out, drinking in the clear air, her head on Sokka's lap. He was alert, looking around as if to prevent any danger from befalling the weakened warrior.
When they arrived at the seaside cave that Suki had seen before, they landed and dismounted. Sokka helped Suki off of Appa and tried to guide her into the cave, into which the others had already disappeared. Suki stopped Sokka and eased her way over to a rock by the cave's mouth. Sokka sat beside her, holding her hand.
"Sokka, I have to tell you something," she said, struggling in her weakness to get the words out.
"Suki, you need rest. Can't it wait –"
"No," she said. She looked into Sokka's blue eyes. "While I was in prison, I received a visitor." Sokka looked at her intently, confused. "The moon spirit came to see me." Sokka's eyes widened and his grip on her hand tightened. His second hand moved to hold hers. "She told me that she loved you." Sokka took a steadying breath. "She also told me that she wants you to move on and be happy. She said that the only way that you could abandon her . . . is if you abandon love." Sokka looked at her for a moment, thinking before speaking.
"Suki, I loved her." Somehow, the answer did not wound Suki like she thought it would. "I think I'll always love her in a way. Please, Suki. Try to understand –"
"I do." Suki was surprised that she did understand so easily, and a faint smile wandered onto her lips. "She asked me to give you this." Suki withdrew Yue's necklace from her pocket and handed it to Sokka. He received it with stunned silence, not quite believing. He remembered how much it had hurt him seeing that necklace the first time, months ago. He clutched it tightly in his hand for a moment, a single tear escaping from his eyes, which were shut tight.
When he unfolded his hand and opened his eyes once more, the pendant had changed. It was now a small, open fan, resembling those that the Kyoshi Warriors used in battle.
Sokka looked at it for a moment, then smiled.
"She wants you to have it," he said, putting it around Suki's neck.
Under the smile of the full moon, they kissed.